Our children don’t need any encouragement in the area of scatalogical humor, but here we all have been anyway, laughing through the pages of Dav Pilkey’s new Dog Man. (Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame.) That is to say–this book would not be something to read to your four-year-old daughter. Unless, uh, she had two older brothers and was already unfazed by such humor.
Case in point:
Dog Man, as Pilkey tells it, is the creation of George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two comic-writing friends whose teacher, Ms. Construde, clearly does not appreciate their “disruptive activity in my classroom.” All my kids love it, of course.
The premise itself is a little more violent than I would have liked for my (or any) kids: Dog Man is born when the evil cat Petey blows up Officer Knight and his dog Greg:
Doctor: I’m sorry Greg, but your body is dying. and your head is dying too, cop.
Officer: Rats! I sure hate my dying head!
But just when all seemed lost…
Nurse Lady: Hey! Why don’t we sew Greg’s head onto cop’s body?
Doctor: Good idea, nurse lady! You’re a genius!
Here “a brand-new crime-fighting sensation was unleashed.”
Dog Man the character is about what you would expect from somebody who is half man, half dog. He battles Petey, then Robo Chief, and then a giant, walking Philly cheesesteak mascot in chapter 4, “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” This last chapter was probably the funniest and best part of the book. Sample lines:
OH look! Little baby hot dogs are starting a revolution!!!!
We’re not little babies! we’re regular sized!
(Their subsequent claim to be “gangsta” will go over kids’ heads and seems to unfortunately engage in cultural appropriation.)
A fun feature that comes up at several points is the “Flip-O-Rama,” where you can create a little bit of animation by quickly flipping between pages. At this moment I’m looking at the book’s warning: “Remember—Flip it, Don’t Rip it!!!!!!”, which happens to be right next to a newly made rip in our edition. Oh, well.
The section in the back of the book with “How 2 Draw” different characters is icing on the cake.
For how inexpensive the book is, I was pleasantly surprised to see a sewn binding. The colors are vibrant and the lettering is what you would expect from Dav-Pilkey-as-two-kids-writing-a-comic. It inspired my own kids to write their own. (Details forthcoming, or maybe we’ll just try for a book deal.)
If you’re trying to avoid scatological humor, don’t get this book. If you’ve maybe slacked a little with your standards for your kids in that regard, they’ll probably love Dog Man.
Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.
Our kids have also spent many collective minutes and hours poring over two books from The World of Mamoko series: The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000 and The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons.
The premise of Mamoko is simple: “Use your eyes!” to “follow the adventures” of more than two dozen different characters through seven detailed spreads that span two pages each. The books are hardback, like giant board books, so they’ll last us a long time. The target age range is 5-8 years old, but my four-year-old (who can’t yet read) really enjoys looking at the pictures, too.
Here’s a spread from World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons:
It’s lots of fun. There are short descriptions of each character that help in knowing what to look for. For example, a pink elephant (holding a hammer?) is Othello Smith:
OTHELLO SMITH is feeling bummed out. What is the cause of his distress?
The book is pretty funny. And it’s big enough that, like the Where’s Waldo? books, two people can easily look for characters and their antics at the same time.
But I told Candlewick my kids would help me review these two books, and a promise is a promise, so… here are my nine-year-old’s review notes from The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000:
And here’s his short take on The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons:
Thanks to Candlewick Press for the review copies, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.
My six-year-old son wanted to start a blog to write book reviews, so I’m turning my blog over to him for today’s post. Below is his review of Shark Attack! (Scholastic, 2013), including a bit of Q and A between me and him. Enjoy.
I like this book.
Because it tells me about sharks. How long they can open their mouths.
What was your favorite part about this book?
When the shark does diving.
What was surprising about the book?
That sharks can hear.
How can they hear?
They sense it. “Sharks hear sounds too low for you to hear.”
Who would like this book?
I got them from my wife, who heard them somewhere:
Don’t yuck my yum.
That’s it. Don’t yuck my yum.
You may not like the only barely undercooked beans in this chili, or the grilled asparagus, or the salad greens because even though you chew them into a tiny million pieces you still manage to gag yourself on them–
Sorry… where was I? Oh, yeah–don’t yuck my yum.
You may not like this food, but I do, and it’s probably good for you. You’re welcome to not like it, but I find it yummy, so… no “yuck” allowed, please.
Marc Rosenthal’s Big Bot, Small Bot: A Book of Robot Opposites is short and simple, but wonderfully executed.
The book is just what it says: through colorful images and some imaginative flap-lifting, kids and parents follow some “retro-futuristic robots” through opposites like wet/dry, full/empty, and so on.
When you lift the flap, the opposite is revealed. So you start with this:
And end up with this!
I really wanted to just take a picture of every opposite and show it to you, but I will simply recommend the book, instead. The target ages are 2 to 5, which seems spot on to me. (You can see more images here, if you like.)
The book is funny, clever, and engaging. My 3-year-old was a fan from the first time she read it. The paper is nice and thick, too. That means it will give up a pretty good fight when your toddler decides–in a fit of unexplained and inexplicable rage–to rip all their books. (I’ve heard some kids do this.)
It makes for some excellent parent-child reading and interaction.
Thanks to the good folks at POW! Kids Books for sending the book for review, though that did not influence my opinions.